As had been rumored before the announcement by Alberto Gonzales of his resignation this morning, the front-runner for his slot as Attorney General is none other than Michael Chertoff.
The Tiny Sliver of a Man behind The Brownie?
Incredible, but seemingly true as the latest news reports at this hour are that the White House may be tapping long-time crony Clay Johnson to replace Chertoff at DHS.
As I've said before, everytime you could imagine the stupidest possible thing in the world - George Bush is mostly likely to do that very thing.
Before we get into why Chertoff is an abominably bad choice, let quickly refresh our memories on how many interesting resignations we've had in the Bush Administration since the November 2006 Elections. (Pardon me if I indulge in a little Shadenfreude!)
- Albert Gonzales resigns amidst an intense Congressional Investigation on his multiple lies to Congress over the Politicization of the DOJ, the Domestic Spying Program and Torture.
- Karl Rove just ahead of subpoenas for his testimony on the DOJ firing scandal, followed very likely by Contempt of Congress citations two weeks ago.
- DOJ executive Brad Schlozman resigned on Aug 20th while under investigation by the Inspector General for his involvement in politicizing and practicing employment discrimination at the Civil Rights Division of DOJ.
- Press Secretary Tony Snow announced his resignation on August 17.
- White House Counselor Dan Bartlett resigned in June.
- Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace announced his retirement under direction of Rumsfeld replacement Robert Gates in order to avoid a tough re-confirmation fight with Congress in June.
- Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz was forced out of his position at the World Bank after allegations of incompetence and nepotism in May. (Not connected to the New Congress - but still funny!)
- White House Political Director and assistant to Karl Rove, Sara Taylor resigned abruptly in May just before testifying (kinda) to Congress over White House involvement in the DOJ Scandal.
- Deputy NSC head J.D. Crouch retired in May to "Spend more time with his family"
- Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty resigned in May just as he was scheduled to testify to Congress in May about the prosecutor purge.
- USAID head Randy Tobias resigned after allegations of his use of a call girl service.
- Karl Rove Protege and Patriot Act Replacement U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin resigned in May amid renewed allegations that he had been involved in an illegal voter caging scheme while working with the RNC in 2004.
- DOJ/White House Liaison Monica Goodling Resigned just prior to her testimony on the DOJ Scandal in April for which she was granted immunity after initially refusing to talk and where she admitted to violations of the Hatch Act.
- DOJ Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson resigned in March - even though he was still on the payroll - as the DOJ Firing Scandal initially broke.
- White House Counsel Harriet Miers left in January and is now looking at Contempt of Congress charges for her refusal to testify about her involvement in the DOJ firings.
- After two turbulent recess appointments as UN Ambassador John Bolton resigned in late 2006.
- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, with numerous possible investigations from War Crimes to tampering with pre-war intelligence looming, resigned (for the third time) just one day before the November Elections.
As can be seen here, there is clearly a pattern among various levels of the Administration that When the Going Gets Tough, the Bushies Get Going!!
And just think, if we didn't have a Democratic Congress all of these people would very likely still be in their positions.
Now it looks like Chertoff will not be an back-door recess appointment since Gonzales will not be leaving until September 17th, right in the middle of Congress getting down and dirty with the
Patreaus President's report on Iraq - are you thinking they might be a tad too distracted while making the next decision on containing the surge or implementing a bit of surge protection to really get into the nitty gritty with Chertoff? I am and I'm betting the White House is too.
But then again how could they forget this?
- Harry Reid calling for Chertoff's resignation "after the government dropped Las Vegas from a list of cities considered potential high-risk targets eligible for special anti-terrorism grants.".
- "An 11-member, all-Republican Congressional panel released a scathing report on the leadership failures before, during and after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. While there is no shortage of incompetent public officials involved in this tragedy, one stands out above the rest. That person is Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff."
- Even Brownie thought Chertoff should go because "FEMA had been "marginalized" by Chertoff and his predecessor, Tom Ridge," and had been a significant factor in the agencies failure to perform during Katrina.
- Michael Chertoff strongly supported the Dubai Ports Deal, despites warnings from the Coast Guard of possible terrorist infiltration.
- And then or course, there's Chertoff's Gut.
Although the final resignation of Gonzo can only be seen as a good thing for America and Democracy in the long term, the apparent nominal replacement of Chertoff seems like the beginning of an even larger nightmare of cronyism and incompetence. The only window of hope for a return to sanity we might have is the possibility that Chertoff's confirmation will fail leaving Solicitor General Paul Clement in charge as interim AG to continue investigations of the Gonzales regime at the DOJ and seriously consider an Independent Counsel to look at the various misdeeds of the Bush White House while Gonzales headed things at justice.
Update: But even that ray of light seems incredibly slim as there are indications that he too will support the stonewall since he has already signed on to the President's excessive use of Executive Privilege and may be just as much of a Federalist Society Wack-Job as Gonzo.
If Clement doesn't want to play ball, Congress will have to continue on the path they've already set - Inherent Contempt - but at least we don't have to Impeach the Bastard anymore so we can already consider that a win. If this were a war of attrition, I'd say the Dems have already taken quite a few scalps without having to pull the Impeachment trigger - yet.